Explain the sentiment displayed in The Good Earth about women.

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Good Earth, Pearl Buck constructs the novel to show a low sentiment towards women in Chinese culture.  Several aspects of the novel suggest this low regard.  First, the gender of Wang Lung and O-lan's children and their parents' reaction to their birth is a clear indicator of how the society views women.  The couple are overjoyed when their first child is a boy, and Wang Lung spends much money buying party favors for the celebration of this son's birth.  When O-lan gives birth to a girl, however, she does not even bother to tell Wang Lung that she has given birth.  Also, when the couple are forced to move south to find food, O-lan suggests that they sell their daughter into slavery, a proposition that would never be made for one of their sons.  Next, Wang Lung's marriage to O-lan also suggests the low regard that society has for women.  Wang Lung goes to the House of Hwang to "buy" O-lan from the old master.  Wang Lung is a poor farmer, so he is only able to get someone of O-lan's class as his bride.  He ends up treating her more like a farm-hand than a partner.  Pearl Buck lived in China with her family who were missionaries and was heavily influenced by the differences in culture that she experienced while there, and thus chose to write about these views in her novels.